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Matthew G's story

15th January 2015

When twenty-year-old University of Nottingham fresher Matthew, an international student from the Bahamas, woke up shivering in November, he assumed it was just the cold. But when he passed out he knew there was something more serious wrong. In fact, the keen runner had contracted Meningitis B

Matthew G's story

“I am an avid runner and the night before I fell ill I ran 10K in a personal best time and even baked a cake.

“I woke up the next morning at around 1am shivering uncontrollably. I assumed I was just cold, so shut the window and put the radiator on. When I woke up soon after I was hot and walked towards the radiator to cut it off. I felt faint and woke up on the floor a few minutes later.

I couldn't sleep that night and kept getting up to use the bathroom or have a drink of water. Every single time I left bed I fainted, hitting my head several times. I guess I was beginning to become confused because normally I would have found that concerning, but that night I just kept going back to bed.

I managed to sleep a little bit and when I awoke the sun was out and I went to make coffee. As I stood in front of the coffee machine I passed out again and hit the back of my head against the kitchen table."

Needed an ambulance

“At that point I decided something was wrong and I needed an ambulance. I called several numbers before finally getting through.

Anyway, the ambulance met me downstairs and I walked into the back of it. The paramedics took vital signs and could see I had a high fever and surmised I had some infection. They kindly made an appointment for me at the uni medical centre for around 4pm that day and let me out after advising me to buy some paracetamol.

The ambulance didn't leave the halls as I guess I didn't seem very sick at this point. So, I went to the on-site store, bought some paracetamol and went back to my room to get ready for the appointment later that day.

I began to feel weak and tired and, for some reason, lay down instead of getting ready to leave for the appointment. When I woke up soon after I was very confused. The sun was shining and the clock read around 2:30 but I couldn't understand if it was day or night. I didn't know what day it was either."

A bit uncoordinated

“I was convinced it was the next day and I was late for lectures. I looked at my timetable but couldn't make sense of it, so I threw a bunch of books in my bag and left my room. I was a bit uncoordinated at this point and was dragging my feet when walking.

At some point on my way to class I decided I should go to the medical centre instead. Thinking it was the next day, I was unaware that the centre was expecting me. When I arrived I had to register and I remember writing the wrong date - it was way off.

After I handed in the form to the receptionist it was like a switch turned. I could hardly stay conscious and the staff quickly realised something was wrong. I was rushed into a room and the doctor began asking me how long I had had this rash. I didn't remember having a rash and the doctors say the rash developed in front of their eyes.

After failing to tell the doctor the correct day of the week, he correctly guessed I had meningitis and gave me antibiotics. Before I knew it I had an oxygen mask on and was in an ambulance. The first 12 hours were quite scary as loads of IVs were placed in, some stitched into my neck, and I had several medical tests done."

Concern about walking

“The doctors were concerned as my blood pressure was low. The next two days were very concerning as my legs and arms were so weak. I was unable to turn in bed or open a bag of crisps. I had great concern about walking again. Trying to stand for the first time, my legs would just not support me, I couldn't do it.

Thankfully though, my strength came back and I was soon walking again. I was discharged after eight days in hospital.

I am incredibly lucky to be alive and be able to walk and have no current severe after-effects.

Unfortunately, before falling ill, I hadn't heard much about meningitis and wasn't vaccinated. I would love to increase awareness about vaccination as this is such a serious disease and affects so many people in my age group.”